BREAKING:

Another week, another escape for Michigan

The SportsXchange

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. -- Last week, the Michigan Wolverines said they lost a little focus against Akron. On Saturday night, after another major scare at Connecticut, coach Brady Hoke said he was proud of his team's resiliency.

If that doesn't quite sound like a Top 25 team with high aspirations, the Wolverines would probably agree.

"We're Michigan. We don't settle for less," defensive end Frank Clark said. "We don't play to anyone else's level. And for the last two weeks we have. But we're going to step it up."

The bottom line is that No. 14 Michigan is 4-0 heading into a bye week, but it hasn't come easy. Fitzgerald Toussaint rushed for 120 yards on 24 carries and Brendan Gibbons kicked a 21-yard field goal with 4:36 left in the fourth quarter as the Wolverines rallied from a 14-point second-half deficit to defeat Connecticut 24-21.

One week after avoiding an upset with a 28-24 home victory over Akron, the Wolverines were sluggish and mistake-prone again as UConn (0-3) took a 14-7 lead at halftime. Despite an inspired effort by the Huskies on defense, two touchdowns by Toussaint in the second half saved the Wolverines from an embarrassing upset on the road.

"I thought our team did a really good job being resilient, especially in the second half," Hoke said. "Defensively, for four quarters, I thought we played awfully hard and played productive. Offensively, obviously you can't give the ball away. Right now, we've got a major league problem and we've got to fix it. That's not going to win championships."

Michigan was intercepted twice, lost both of its fumbles and was held to 289 total yards of offense.

UConn increased its lead to 21-7 on the first possession of the second half. On third-and-1 from the Michigan 34, Wolverines quarterback Devin Gardner fumbled and safety Ty-Meer Brown scooped up the ball for a 34-yard return into the end zone.

"I don't know how that happened," said Gardner, who was 11-for-23 for 97 yards passing. "All I know is I didn't hold on to the ball. We faced adversity and we responded. We'd rather not let it come to that. But if that's what it takes on this day, we're happy with the win."

The Huskies had a huge opportunity to turn their season around before a sellout crowd that included Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees and Ray Allen of the Miami Heat. But UConn now is 2-19 all time against teams ranked in the Associated Press poll.

"Michigan made a couple more plays and first downs than we did," UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni said. "We contained them for a long time, but not long enough. This effort gives us something to look forward to as we prepare for our next game. We will make some corrections and bounce back."

The Wolverines put together a nine-play, 75-yard drive to close the gap to seven points. With 5:37 left in the third quarter, Touissaint rushed 35 yards for a Michigan touchdown that cut UConn's lead to 21-14.

Touissaint tied the score at 21 on a 12-yard run with 9:49 left in the fourth quarter. That touchdown was set up by linebacker Desmond Morgan's 29-yard interception return after he picked off UConn quarterback Chandler Whitmer and gave Michigan possession at the UConn 12.

The Huskies, with losses to Towson and Maryland in their first two games, managed just 37 yards and one first down in the first quarter. The second quarter was a much different story as UConn scored two touchdowns in a span of just over two minutes to take a 14-7 lead at halftime. The Huskies gained 91 yards in the second quarter to 39 for Michigan.

With the two teams playing before a Rentschler Stadium record crowd of 42,704, Whitmer connected with tight end Spencer Parker on an 11-yard touchdown pass with 3:54 left that capped an eight-play, 56-yard drive.

The Huskies got the ball back with 2:25 left when Da'Mario Jones ran into the ball as UConn was trying to down a punt at the Michigan 9. UConn's Obi Melifonwu recovered the fumble and the Huskies needed just two plays to score on a 7-yard pass from Whitmer to tailback Lyle McCombs.

"We felt like we had momentum," Davis said. "But we didn't want to stay content. We keep giving effort, but we've got to give more. It's not enough. I feel like we're improving every week, but it has to come to the point where that improvement turns into a win."

NOTES: UConn entered the game ranked No. 103 in total offense and No. 101 in total defense among 123 FBS teams. The Huskies were No. 121 in sacks allowed, illustrating the weakness of the team's offensive line. ... This was the first time that Michigan had played a non-conference game on the East Coast since it faced Boston College on Sept. 16, 1995. The Wolverines won that game 23-13 in Chestnut Hill, Mass. ... Michigan WR Jeremy Gallon extended his streak with at least one reception to 30 consecutive games with two catches in the first half. He now has at least four catches in eight straight games.
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